I was drawn to Pilate and the trap he found himself in. All around him, the Jewish leaders and people they incited were in a frenzy to see Jesus crucified. Pilate tried to placate them by having Jesus flogged to the very brink of death. He tries to tell the people that he finds no basis for a charge against Jesus – He’s done nothing wrong!
I see now that Pilate was touched. Pilate realizes that this man is extraordinary and when his attempts to free him fail, we see him scrambling to find a way to be free of any blame. He proclaims Jesus’ innocence (v.4). He physically tries to release Jesus but he is unable:
12 Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders told him, “If you release this man, you are not a friend of Caesar. Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.”
He then turns the contempt upon the Jews – unknowingly under the control of God – and he says, “Behold your King.” And, in a final act of denial, the Jewish leaders shout words that continue to echo today:
15b “We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back.
Did you notice the sign?:
19 And Pilate posted a sign over him that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
The Jewish leaders came back and requested that the sign be changed to “He said, I am King of the Jews” but Pilate refused. Furthermore, Pilate makes a statement that makes me sure he understood who Jesus was:
22 Pilate replied, “What I have written, I have written. It stays exactly as it is.”
It says exactly as it is. Again, I see a man caught in a trap – an internal conflict so disturbing and profound. He recognizes the authority and true nature of Jesus, but is unable to use his own authority as governor to change it. Are the Jews in control? Is Pilate in control? No – it had to happen this way. No one could change it, not the Jewish leaders, not Pilate.
And, thank God that it happened exactly as it did!
Thank You, Jesus!